Welcome to the start of the high school football playoffs, where 16 teams in each division put 10 weeks of hard work on the line.
We were treated to a litany of high-level performances in the regular season’s final week, with Mountain View and Ironwood Ridge pulling off major upsets over Flowing Wells and Cienega.
The Marana Tigers, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and Canyon del Oro Dorados handled their business as well, with the Tigers routing Nogales on the border, 50-0, while Pusch Ridge beat Catalina Magnet, 41-6, and CDO handled Casa Grande, 43-28.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons came up a tad short against Sahuaro, closing out coach Jeff Scurran’s tenure at the high school.
There were many individual efforts to choose from for this week’s list, including Stevie Rocker of CDO, who receives an honorable mention in this week’s list for racking up 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Cougars.
Without further ado, here’s who made the cut for the final regular season installment of Three Stars:
3. Trenton Bourguet — Marana senior quarterback
Stats: 13/21, 231 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns (0 interceptions)/3 carries, 26 rushing yards
Bourguet has been phenomenal this season for Louie Ramirez’s squad, finishing the regular season with 2,081 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns to six interceptions. The senior closed out his regular season career on an equally high note, averaging 17.8 yards per completion in a blowout win over the Apaches. Bourguet and the Tigers will have a shot at redemption on Friday night, taking on the eighth-seeded Cienega Bobcats in Vail in the opening round of the 5A playoffs. The Bobcats, as you may remember, knocked Bourguet out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals a year ago, so revenge could be on the table this time around.
2. Evan Lovett — Pusch Ridge Christian Academy sophomore running back
Stats: 20 carries, 209 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns/1 interception
Lovett has been one of the most pleasant surprises in Southern Arizona this season, with 1,104 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns as a sophomore. The 6-foot back has the size and lateral quickness to be a bonafide Power Five commit in a few years, giving Jerry Harris a piece to build his team around in the years to come. Lovett has been an excellent two-way player, with 11 tackles for loss and 5 sacks on defense, to go with the interception he snagged on Friday. Keep an eye out for this young man, he’s going to be making waves wherever he plays on the collegiate circuit.
1. Shaun Buttigieg — Mountain View junior running back
Stats: 13 carries, 229 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Buttigieg was the cog in Clarence McRae’s offensive tour de force against the Caballeros on Friday. The junior running back displayed the type of raw power and speed that the Lions’ have lacked this season, breaking off 17.6 yards per rush in the team’s upset win over the Cabs. Buttigieg’s biggest play was a 95-yard scamper up the gut that pierced the hearts of the home side, giving the Lions the confidence they needed to spear the Caballeros in their 42-16 victory. The Lions might have missed out on the 5A playoffs but finish the year with five-straight wins and a running game, led by Buttigieg, that should haunt opposing defenses next fall.